Booking your honeymoon: travel agent or independently

If you’ve decided on your honeymoon destination but have yet to book your trip, chances are that your thoughts are turning towards who to book it with – and whether to do it through a travel agent, or to do it yourselves. There’s benefits to both ways, so what it comes down to more than anything is personal preference, and how much time you want to spend planning things yourselves.

I’ve travelled extensively, and have always done so independently, so my personal instinct is to always book things myself. However, if we’d had a more straightforward honeymoon, we probably would have booked through a travel agent on this occasion – for a start, agents and operators can often get better deals than you could yourselves, plus they’re more likely to be able to put in a good word for  you regarding upgrades etc (though, we still managed to get an upgrade or some kind of other perk at every place we stayed). However, we were travelling around South Africa for a month, didn’t want to fly at all, and had our hearts set on staying in a few places that we wouldn’t have been able to book through a travel agent – so booking through a travel agent ended up not being an option. Plus, when you like planning holidays as much as I do, then sometimes it can be hard to let go of the planning…

If you’ve never booked a trip independently, then now’s probably not the time to start – I’d recommend with going down the route you feel most comfortable with. Certain destinations, like the Maldives, the Seychelles, and safaris, which are generally rather expensive, are best off booked through an agent, who’ll be able to offer you much more competitive deals than you could ever hope to find yourselves.

Here’s a few things to bear in mind for each way  of booking, though bear in mind that the points aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive:

Why book through a travel agent:

  • You usually book your holidays through a travel agent and have never organised a trip from scratch before
  • You’re looking to spend your honeymoon in just one or two hotels
  • You don’t have time to search for the best deals
  • You’re looking for an all-inclusive honeymoon
  • You’re travelling somewhere you’ve never been and would rather make sure that everything (including transport) is arranged for minimal hassle
  • Your chosen destination is somewhere a little off-the-beaten track and quite expensive, where specialist knowledge and contacts will help you get the best deal and figure out the best itinerary
  • You want to travel around but don’t know your destination well enough to know where the best places to go are

Why book it yourselves:

  • You’ve planned other holidays yourselves (and enjoyed it)
  • You’re happy to spend time searching for the best deals for flights and accommodation
  • You’ve want to travel around on your honeymoon and have the time to read up on and figure out the best places to go, and how long to stay there
  • You don’t just want to stay in hotels – ie you fancy hiring an apartment for part or all of  your honeymoon
  • You’re going away for a longer trip and/or want to have a mix between luxury and mid-range/budget accommodation, or want to leave part of your trip open to spontaneous decisions once you’re in-country
  • You’ve found a few perfect places to stay but they can’t all be booked through travel agents
  • You’ve travelled a lot and value the feeling of being completely independent

One thing I should point out is that the volcanic eruption in Iceland earlier in the year was a great example of when booking a package through a travel agent is advantageous – people on package holidays were automatically put up by their companies until they were able to go home, while travellers who had booked independently were left to sort themselves out and hope that their insurance would cover their expenses (in many cases it didn’t). While this was a highly unusual occurrence, if you’re a nervous or infrequent traveller then it’s worth bearing in mind that you are protected from things like this by booking through a recognised travel agent (look for the ATOL symbol) – that said, make sure however you book you take out decent travel insurance and you’ll be covered for most eventualities.

For a list of my recommended travel agents and tour operators, check out the Travel Links section.

Photo courtesy of Adam Brill.

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